ASA PREVIEW: Saturday, Aug 25th, 7:30PM ET
Colorado State (-14) [58)
The Hawaii Rainbows travel to the mainland to face Mountain West rivals Colorado State in an early season conference clash. This game features a pair of teams in rebuilding mode as both have significant turnover from a season ago. These two programs are picked to finish in the bottom half of the conference, but Colorado State has a much better shot to finish the year with a winning record under head coach Mike Bobo, who has led the Rams to three straight 7-6 seasons. Hawaii’s Nick Rolovich is in his third season as the head coach for the Rainbows and currently sits 10-16 in his first two years. Hawaii started 2-0 last year, albeit versus UMass and Western Carolina, then went 1-9 their last ten games. In those ten games the Rainbow’s defense allowed a ridiculous 7.15 Yards Per Play, while gaining just 5.5YPPL themselves. They allowed 35.5PPG over that ten game span but scored just 19.5PPG. The Rainbows have a ton of holes to fill from last year including: starting QB, top 2 running backs, 3 of their four top wideouts, 4 of their top eight O-line men, their top 3 D-line, top 3 safeties AND have they now have their 3rd defensive coordinator in three years. At QB this season will be Cole McDonald who threw just 9 passes last year, so inexperience is a concern. The Bows are looking to transition into a more of a run and shoot offense which is going to be difficult considering the lack of experience. On the other side of the football it can’t get much worse as Hawaii ranked 129th out of 130 schools in total defensive efficiency ratings.
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Colorado State also has to retool this season, but have enough talent on the roster to minimize the damage of losing 8 starters on offense and 6 starters on defense. The Rams must replace QB Nick Stevens who threw for over 8,500 yards while at CSU, along with their top running back and four wide receivers, but the cupboard isn’t bare. The Rams had a solid recruiting class and benefitted by landing QB Carta-Samuels, a grad transfer from Washington, who has been fantastic this spring. On the offensive line they return five players with starting experience so you shouldn’t see too much of a drop off upfront in the trenches. Colorado State ranked 30th in offensive efficiency last season and will certainly drop this season, but we don’t forecast them falling as far as you might think with a solid offensive coach like Bobo. Defensively the Rams are switching from a 3-4 to a 4-3 this season and also have a new D-coordinator in John Jancek. That’s not bad news for Rams fans though as CSU was 108th in DEFF last season. Jancek had back-to-back top 20 defensive units at Tennessee in 2014-15. The defensive backfield will be anchored by a pair of very good safeties and three of their top tacklers at linebacker. The Rams started 2-2 last year, then went on a 4-0 run in conference action with wins over: Hawaii, Utah State, Nevada and New Mexico. CSU was +12PPG and +1.2YPPL in those four wins. They then faded down the stretch with a 1-4 finish but still made a Bowl game.
Last year when these same two teams squared off on the Big Island the Rams were favored by -6.5 points with a total of 66. Colorado State won that game 51-21. CSU put up 610 total yards of offense and had two TD’s on very short drives. One TD came on a 2 play, 80 yard scoring drive, while the other came on a 4 play drive of 77 yards. Both drives combined took less than 2 minutes. Hawaii racked up 512 total yards themselves but couldn’t dig themselves out of the 24-point deficit at halftime. Ironically, both teams averaged over 7.0 yards per carry which is a rarity. We’re not ready to back the Rams here who were 0-4 ATS as a double-digit chalk last year, but can’t side with this Rainbows team that is 2-4-1 ATS their last seven as a +14 or more dog.
Good luck with your wagers this weekend….ASA, Inc